Back in December, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill that would restore voting rights to more than 80,000 people who are on probation or parole in New Jersey.

Democrats had waited with bated breath for Chris Christie to leave office so that they could finally see this law enacted. It takes effect March 17, and makes New Jersey one of several states to enact legislation granting felons on probation or parole voting rights that had previously been denied to them.

It’s no secret that this is less about freedom or constitutionality than it is about securing a huge chunk of votes for tax-and-spend Democrats and their liberal policies in New Jersey. In 2016, the Sentencing Project, an advocacy group out of Washington DC, released a study detailing minorities within the N.J. prison population. The results were startling: at that time, New Jersey was way above other states in terms of the number of minorities who were incarcerated. In fact, when the report was released back then, New Jersey was incarcerating blacks at a rate of 12 times that of whites.

Assuming these statistics have not changed dramatically in the past five years, the numbers are very telling. Because minorities tend to vote Democratic, allowing 80,000 people who are on probation or parole to vote creates a huge voter block that can be very beneficial to New Jersey Democrats.

Here’s the problem. Prison is meant to be a punishment. And it’s always resulted in the loss of freedom and democratic rights. One may argue that after the sentence is over the punishment is over too. But that is a misconception. During periods of parole you are still considered someone who is working to regain the trust of the judicial system and society. You aren’t free in any sense of the word except for the fact that you are allowed to live among society. You are still denied many rights and technically are still in the legal custody of the state Department of Corrections. When you’re on parole, you’re still considered to be serving your sentence, and may be returned to prison if you violate the conditions of the parole.

Your complete freedom is not restored to you until your parole period is over and you prove that you are trustworthy. I believe that when the parole period is over, ex-convicts should not be able to vote until they have demonstrated that they are willing to abide by the law … then, and only then, should their right to vote be restored. Most people who have served time in prison have had problems with judgment and/or honesty.

The right to vote wasn’t bestowed upon us frivolously: Non-citizens, children and the mentally incapacitated are all denied the right to vote in this country. That’s because of our inability to be certain that they have the best interests of America in mind and can be entrusted with this solemn responsibility. Automatically restoring the right to vote to 80,000 New Jerseyans on probation or parole is jumping the gun. Voters make decisions that have the potential to shift our way of life in innumerable ways. Do parolees or probationers have the perspicacity to do so?

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